Linnette Johnson from 5 Elements Coaching reveals to DeliveryRank her views and experience on the work she performs today. She gives us a glimpse into her own personal journey and how she strives to help others along the way.
To answer this question, I must take this back to the beginning. 5 Elements Coaching began in 2015 when I was starting as a Health & Wellness Coach. I finished my MUIH post-bachelorette program and was heading into completing a few more classes in 2016 to obtain a master’s degree in Health & Wellness Coaching because the program was so fascinating. Still, every time I turned around in this program, there seemed to be 5 Elements this or that, so 5 Elements Coaching LLC was born. Immediately after the Coaching program, I went into the Clinical Nutrition program. Again, there were a lot of 5 Element aspects in nutrition and healing our bodies, such as the 5Rs for healing our guts. Basically, it has stuck.
However, the logo didn’t occur until about a year ago, created by a fellow nutritionist (Jasmine Blake Hollywood), who did web/graphic work before beginning a career in nutrition. We ended up having an in-depth conversation about our visions and missions for our nutrition and coaching businesses. Since this conversation, we have worked on a few research projects with a group of women. The reason for mentioning this is because throughout the conversation it became apparent that I was unsettled by the name. After all, I couldn’t bring my logo to life. It was causing me to wonder if my practice name still fit with the evolution of my practice because it had grown and changed a lot since the beginning. Due to this conversation and how she brought my logo to life, it was meant to stay since my idea for a logo was finally brought to life.
So here is the meaning behind the logo and how I explained it in the above conversation on how it fits my practice, which is based on the following- Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit – all things that need to be incorporated into one’s life. We need the Earth to grow our food and ground us. We need air to breathe and communicate and for plants to create food. We need fire for our warmth, to fuel our passions, and to cook our food. We need water to hydrate our bodies and to show us how to go with the flow. We need spirit, whether faith or internal peace, to live to our fullest. These 5 Elements work with nutrition or food concepts or with coaching concepts, as one hopefully can see from above, and it is what I hope to bring to my practice.
It’s also fun to see what others see in the logo because it’s never the same. For me, it’s all the above and embodies all I wish to offer, from coaching, nutrition, herbs, Ayurveda, and more for healing and overall well-being, which I hope my clients feel and receive when working with me.
There are numerous causes for addiction, whether substances or food or any addiction, from psychological aspects like trauma to mental health to environmental influences to genetics, and there are physiological aspects like nutrient imbalances (vitamin D deficiency) which has shown to increase depression or anxiety along with skipping breakfast or any meal for that matter. There are socioeconomic elements that hinder food, relationships or movement that can all affect whether addiction occurs. No one is untouched by addiction in all its forms, as our society is a “breeding” ground for them.
As for the “one-size-fits-all” solution component of the question, the simple answer is that no matter the addiction or even for those without an addiction, the solution should never be “one-size-fits-all” or a “standardized” plan. This idealism of a “one-size-fits-all” or a “standardized” program comes from our society which has been termed the “diet culture,” norms that aren’t geared to each person individually but to make fast money.
It doesn’t matter if you look at this question from a coaching or nutritionist perspective; either way, a person’s health and wellness journey is just as different as the chemical systems inside them. Just because one person succeeds with one plan doesn’t mean another person with similar attributes will have the same results. This idealism that there is a “one-size-fits-all” or a “standardized” plan for health and wellness is entirely flawed, and research continuously shows that we can’t have a one-size-fits-all or a standardized program. The human body is too complex, and there are just too many factors influencing a person’s reaction to how they view health and overall well-being. Health and wellness should never be a rigid plan, but something flexible and personal that accommodates the person and their lifestyle requirements because health and wellness ideals change daily.
Hence, as a professional in nutrition and coaching, I will always encourage my clients to do things that resonate and make them feel their best. I will never promote unsustainable habits, things that don’t resonate, extreme deprivation, or fad diets. Ultimately, what matters is whether I educated the client enough with scientific evidence, whether they feel better and have more energy through getting to their root causes, and whether they have a specific plan sufficient for them to stick to for the long haul or the tools to adjust when needed.
First, diet as a noun is okay as it means the kinds of food one may eat daily, but when used as a verb, the meaning vastly changes to a negative- “restrict oneself to a small amount of food or special kinds of food to lose weight.” In our society or the diet culture aspect of our society, the word diet has a negative connotation, so I don’t usually use the word, and the same goes for the word ‘exercise’. I have reset my mindset to using nutrition plans, food plans, meal plans, or movement so that others I work with don’t feel judged or feel like they must do something to fit into a mold (that no one fits in).
Secondly, the simple answer is yes. Nutrition and lifestyle modifications can promote and even help stabilize mental health with prescribed medications if needed.
So, let’s look at this another way. One in five adults in the United States has a mental health disorder- Any Mental Illness/AMI or Serious Mental Illness/SMI. These mental health diagnoses include the commonly known conditions-depression and anxiety. Based on the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), in 2020, there were 52.9 million (21%) adults with AMI, 14.2 million (5.6%) adults with SMI, and it was estimated that 19.1% of US adults had an anxiety disorder with 31.1% US adults experiencing anxiety disorders in their lives.
These stats are based on those with enough signs and symptoms to be diagnosed, but what about those not diagnosed? Why the increase if more people have access to medical care, health insurance, medications, etc.? Maybe it has to do with food, environmental factors, or the need to always be on the go. We’ve looked at the psychological components for years, and nothing seems to have changed, so why not look at food and sustainable habits that make someone feel energized while at the same time fitting their health & wellness goals?
When someone feels energized, nourished, and healthy without feeling like they are starving or doing things just because they are told to do them, they end up being the best in all areas of their life and health. Their confidence and self-esteem increase when you remove the non-scientific dos and don’ts from society about body images, dieting, or exercising as a punishment or a must-always.
As I stated, the human body is very complex in that it does so much more than the eye sees, from creating hormones to creating neurotransmitters to maintaining muscles and tissues, plus more every day and night. So, to do all this, it needs food and sustainable lifestyles to ensure it functions up to full capacity. Research shows that we are deficient in numerous nutrients and that our lifestyles don’t support the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digestion). Through this research, we have learned that certain nutrients will lessen the risk of depression and anxiety, along with helping to stabilize blood sugars. Specific activities like movement, meditation, and getting enough sleep will help reduce stress and positively affect one’s mental health.
So, yes… nutrition and lifestyle changes can promote and stabilize most mental health conditions, if not at least help support it with other treatments.
Of course, I am human too, and my experiences somewhat got me into this field. I say “somewhat” because if you would have asked me what I wanted to do when I first started in this field, I thought it would be in PCOS and/or Autoimmunity diseases (Hashimoto’s) with their pain points like infertility, fatigue, and other things that are experienced in this arena then it was pulmonary health at one point. However, I ended up graduating during a pandemic, and due to that, the only job available for someone as green as I was in the nutrition field at the time but not so green as a coach was working with those in recovery by educating them on various aspects of what is going on with their body, the whys, and the how’s to help support things so that they lessen their chances of relapse.
I began this teaching journey in July 2020 with a non-profit organization and am still there. I didn’t intend it to be where I fully landed, but it’s where I fit, and I have finally embraced it. Life is funny that way, and I have come to understand this as I have evolved into a mental health nutritionist and coach. My experiences with addiction and mental health allow me to connect and show compassion without judgment or stigma, but it doesn’t define how I do my personalized plans for my clients. Those are all geared towards them, their needs and wants, and unspoken signs and symptoms noticed in their intake forms, questionnaires, blood labs, and through their told health stories.
I currently offer individual “nutrition + coaching” services as self-pay, sliding scale through Open Paths, or via a few insurance plans for which I am in the network. I hope to expand on the insurance plans I accept because I want to ensure these services are available to anyone and everyone, no matter their socioeconomic standing. Also, looking at other avenues to make services and programs more affordable without lessening my or others in the field’s worth.
Coming soon will be programs geared towards mental health through foods, food relationships, body positivity, and more. I have partnered with Positive Intelligence (PQ Coaching) to offer their app and my coaching experience to increase mental fitness. Plus, I am offering a Monthly Recipe Club through another partnership with “That Clean Life” so that foods for overall health are at everyone’s fingertips.
I am creating Intuitive Eating/Mental Health programs now that I am a trained Intuitive Eating counselor so that people can gain healthier relationships with food and their bodies which affects our mental health. There is so much going on, and I aim to reach as many people as possible who wish to gain these services or programs. Unfortunately, it’s an uphill battle because it’s not a quick process or magic pill or magic wand being waved since society now believes everything and anything worth anything must be fast, which isn’t true.
I plan to complete the Doctor of Clinical Nutrition (DCN) program I am working through, which I am tentatively supposed to finish in May 2024. As I work on the DCN, I hope to continue slowly and steadily educating others about how foods affect our moods and mental health and how to gain healthy relationships with nutrition, self-care, and self-love through body positivity. It’s why my practice is and will continue to be a size or weight-inclusive private practice without judgment or stigma.
I also hope to shatter what a nutritionist and coach are supposed to look like and show that my worth isn’t my appearance but what I offer and give to those needing to heal and be heard. So, I will continue to be me- a curvy, thick, tattooed clinical nutritionist and coach with personal experience with mental health, sobriety, and body image issues that have led to eating disorders and choices.
I will continue to learn, evolve, and allow myself compassion with past choices while working on the subsequent decisions that need making. I may have an intensive educational understanding of nutrition and integrative health components…but I am still human with more to constantly learn and evolve with!
If you would like to know more about 5 Elements Coaching, visit https://www.5elementscoaching.org/ or follow on https://www.instagram.com/5elementscoachingandmore/